Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Zoku Natsume Yuujin-chou 12: Of Boys and Haunted Houses

Natsume's friends bring him to an empty house that's rumored to be haunted....
EPISODE 12: The Young Boy in the Empty House
More Screencaps from Zoku Natsume Yuujin-chou 12

Natsume is reluctantly dragged along by Nishimura and Kitamoto to a large empty house. Waiting for them at the front door is Sasada. Apparently, she believes that the house is haunted and wants Natsume to confirm that. Taki passes by just then and sees Natsume. She follows him inside in time to stop Sasada from harrassing Natsume into admitting that he can see ghosts. Taki then latches on to Sasada and gets her to check some of the rooms with her, thus saving Natsume from having to lie about his abilities.
With the girls gone, Nyanko-sensei appears and warns Natsume to get out of the house. Natsume being Natsume, however, he refuses to leave until he gets the girls out of there first. Both of them do not notice a guy lurking just outside the window. As Natsume makes his way down the hallway, he hears a noise coming from one of the rooms. He follows it and finds a wooden coffin from which he hears shouts. Despite Nyanko-sensei's warnings, he quickly opens the coffin and finds there a lone boy cowering in fear. But instead of being thankful, the boy just headbutts Natsume and then dashes out of there.
The girls soon arrive to find out what happened. While Natsume tries to explain, Taki (who, I'd like to remind you all, likes cute things) catches sight of Nyanko-sensei and goes ga-ga over him, prompting Sasada to comment that it's disturbing. Some time later, Natsume meets up with some schoolboys to ask them about Kai, which seems to be the name of the boy he found in the house. The boys tell him that they know Kai but add that he's not being bullied because he actually has many friends.
After the boys leave, Natsume and Nyanko-sensei notice a soccerball being kicked their way. They look to find the same boy inside the haunted house, but Kai doesn't seem too friendly. He blames Natsume for trapping him inside the box. Natsume tries to deny this but Kai's friends start throwing their things at him, calling him names, forcing Natsume to run out of there. Later, he wallows in his room, depressed by their rough treatment of him. Nyanko-sensei is not too sympathetic and refuses even to help find the boy until Natsume bribes him with 200 yen.
Natsume later unexpectedly meets Tanuma and tells him all about it. After a while though, Natsume hears a voice talking about eating a kid, so he checks it out and sure enough, he finds a lone youkai among some ruins. The youkai sees him and dashes in his direction but does no more than scratch Natsume's hand. Taki then arrives but before Natsume could even introduce her to Tanuma, she tells them to leave the area because it tends to draw youkai. Later, they find Kai lurking about in the area just as Nyanko-sensei tracks him down to hand him his nametag. When Natsume, Taki and Tanuma catch up to them, Nyanko-sensei turns to Natsume to ask for his 200 yen. However, Taki sees him first and smothers him with hugs, prompting Tanuma this time to echo Sasada's earlier comment.
Seeing Natsume, Kai again asks him if he is the one who locked him inside the box. Natsume remembers that the box was never locked but assures him that he was not the one who put him in there. With that cleared up, Kai apologizes and the five of them, Nyanko-sensei included, start for home. They drop off Tanuma first and after a while, Kai starts crying while being carried on Natsume's back. Natsume guiltily thinks that he made him cry but Kai dispels him of that notion as he reveals that he is being followed by someone. This makes Natsume wonder if Kai can see youkai.
That evening, while Natsume and Nyanko-sensei are making their way home, they discover that they are being followed by a youkai. Upon seeing it, however, Nyanko-sensei dismisses it as just small fry. The next day, Kai waits at Natsume's school and the two of them with Taki, hang out together. Then, while making their way home, they suddenly get attacked by the stalker youkai, only this time it seems to have grown two times larger. Kai pushes Natsume away in order to save him while Taki, who can't see youkai, wonder what's going on. Natsume then warns her that there is a youkai right in front of her and tells her to stay where she is while he brings Kai to safety.
However, Natsume and Kai only end up in the ruins and the youkai follows them there. Natsume tries to fight it off to no avail until Nyanko-sensei as Madara arrives in time to save him. Kai sees Madara for himself and is ecstatic to find out that Natsume has a youkai servant. But Natsume only says that Madara is not a servant but a bodyguard. It turns out that it was Taki who told Nyanko-sensei about the youkai and that was how he found them. With the youkai gone, everyone is relieved save for Natsume who notices another presence lurking about. He follows the stranger into the woods only to find Natori who reveals that he was the one who put Kai inside the coffin. He then warns Natsume to stay away from Kai because he is a youkai.

Wow, continuity, plus plot build-up and some familiar faces! That's something from a Natsume Yuujin-chou episode. I'm so glad to see that Taki is back. Not too glad about Tanuma's reappearance. He's so useless and he only makes me feel all the uncomfortable yaoi vibes from the series. So I'm glad he appeared for only a brief moment.

As for Natori, he looks so strange without Hiiragi around. I'm guessing this is the mission that the Matsuda clan sent him on at the end of the previous episode. I'm also wondering about Natori's claim that Kai is a youkai. If he is, how come Nyanko-sensei didn't notice his aura? In fact, Nyanko-sensei himself confirms that Kai is a human because he did not sense any youkai aura from him.

And why do I have the feeling that this is all a plot by the Matsuda clan to go after Madara? Because, I don't know if you guys noticed but the Matsuda secretary did eye Nyanko-sensei at the Conjurer's Meeting in the previous episode, and the clan being after strong youkai to turn into their servants and having shown that they're not exactly averse to using strong-arm tactics and devious scheming to get what they want, I can't help but wonder if Natori is being used again to get to Natsume's bodyguard with Kai as bait.

Ah, I can't wait for the next episode. I can't believe it's the final one for this season. I hope there's a third one coming up, because the world of Natsume Yuujin-chou is far from being completely revealed.